An 18 hour documentary

For this week I want to talk about “This Fucked me up: Ken Burns’s The Vietnam War“, by Kevin Nguyen. I know this isn’t the required text of the week, but it was recommended and I really enjoyed the article. Kevin talks about how mostly/all war movies are from the point of view of Americans, we never really get to see the POV of the others in the war, and personally I think there should be more movies from that side. We never get to see the pain they felt, only from the Americans I can relate to because I am American, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t care about every other person, race, or ethnicity out there.

Watching the doc, the pain I felt, like Vietnamese pain has always been, was invisible. It was not a sharp or acute pain, not one you feel in your heart. It was not a soulful one either, if you believe in a soul. It was a lingering pain, the kind you feel in your bones and your joints—one I’d felt all my life, generational trauma passed down that was suddenly flaring up like an inherited disease.

Even though Kevin was not alive for this war, or in the war he still could feel the pain of his people from this 18 hour documentary that finally shows the side of the Vietnamese. It is crazy how one thing can be so personal, and how this is one of the few movies, documentaries and films that shows the other sides perspective. Another great point from this article is the fact that he was talking to some podcast host and didn’t even get to tell his perspective of the documentary because the host had never seen the documentary, was saying no one should watch it, and when Kevin tried to speak went on his phone and stopped listening. So this leads me to my two questions: Do you think their should be more films and other things about the perspective of others from the wars? And, if you have watched the documentary what did you think of it, did it do a justice like Kevin Nguyen says?

6 thoughts on “An 18 hour documentary

  1. I definitely agree that we as Americans need to see the “other side” of most of the wars we’ve fought in. It’s frightening to me how many people don’t consider that America can be the “bad guy” – they’re completely happy to feed into the jingoistic, pro-imperialist American war machine without considering what’s actually right and wrong. I haven’t seen the whole documentary for myself, only a few scenes I’ve watched in various history classes, but I’d love to watch it once I have more time. I thought the podcast host guy was weird too… like, if you’re so against American imperialism, why advise people NOT to watch a documentary highlighting its horrors? Great post, I’m glad someone talked about this article!

  2. This article was very powerful, especially at the end where Kevin explained his experience on a podcast. I think that goes to show how so many people are willing to dispel perspectives that are a little uncomfortable. This host was so against this documentary but had never seen it. This reveals a prejudice towards works like Ken Burn’s documentary and how quickly some people can dispel the value of works like this one. I feel it is important to watch documentaries like the one Kevin talked about because the help us all gain perspective. Hearing about how a Vietnamese-American felt about this documentary helps those with a different perspective understand what that toll of the Vietnam War really was.

  3. I’ve seen two to three episodes of Burns’s documentary, mostly about the windup to what we think of as the Vietnam War proper. I was shocked at how much Americans and Europeans were already meddling in Vietnam beforehand. (I shouldn’t have been shocked, I know better in general, but it’s always a bit visceral to learn again how U.S. history has been told with rose-tinted glasses.) Our hands are not at all clean.

  4. I think we absolutely need more movies from other people’s perspectives. When we learned about the Vietnam War in middle school, I remember focusing almost completely on agent orange and how a lot of victims were disfigured. We were taught how terrible it was but not how it really affected descendants. We didn’t learn why we were there and the topic almost felt avoided. I don’t know if it’s because we seemed “too young” (we were 13-14) or if it seemed too uncomfortable to say we were there for seemingly no reason. In fact, I don’t think we learned the real reason for practically any of the wars the US fought. My comment is literally an example of why we need more perspectives in things like history class.
    On another note, people need to be open and more compassionate about learning. They can’t just look at their phones and ignore when they’re being proved wrong.
    Most of our history books have a skewed version of history and we need to accept that and change it.

  5. In the article when he talks about how everything is from the perspective of Americans and not others it just goes to show how much the meaning of power means to America. It’s selfish to not show perspectives of other countries. It creates blinded people to believe that every war fought was “needed” for our country.

  6. Trying to relate to the other side is important. Soldiers are told to kill, they’re told not to see the life on the other end but rather to see monsters. Even in our modern wars that we fight today we don’t see a country full of people going through their own socio-political problems, we’re told to see people who have sex with goats. It’s a little ridiculous. This also reminds me of the book and movie the 5 people you meet in heaven. The main character after dying, meets several important people in heaven that they interacted with in life. One of those people is a Vietnamese child that they killed without even knowing while burning a village. It’s a really impactful scene and I find it to be in the same line.

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